As good for you as it is, there’s a downside to slathering avocado on everything. Formerly exotic niche ingredients have become superfoodie staples – and farmers are struggling to keep up.
“Food trends directly affect demand,” explains Tim Wheeler, professor of crop science at the University of Reading in the UK. “Usually supply rises equal to diet demands, but sometimes factors such as extreme weather and poor harvest conditions prevent this, which is what we’re seeing with a number of current healthy favourites.”
But there’s no need to become an avo abstainer – just consider swapping in these nutritious alternatives now and again...
Consumption of this brunch linchpin has soared – with the average Aussie chowing down on 3.5kg of the stuff last year alone, according to Avocados Australia. In fact, our nation’s obsession with the fruit has seen us chew through our own supply, forcing local sellers to hit up New Zealand growers, whose stocks are also low thanks to some badly timed storms.
We know, but bear with us. They’re great mashed into ‘mockamole’ or on toast. They have a similar fibre content to avocados and double the protein.
Once just a nut, now so much more. “Almond milk is low in calories, packs more calcium and has none of the hormone backstory linked to soy, so it’s become the top non-dairy alternative,” says Al Overton of Planet Organic. No wonder Australian consumption has risen by more than 38 per cent over the past five years. Sadly, our capacity for production isn’t sufficient enough to support the growing market.
Get half of your daily omega-3 intake from just one glass of hemp milk. “It’s also rich in alpha-linoleic acid,” says chef and nutritionist Christine Bailey. Hemp’s only been legal for consumption in Oz since November, so if hemp milk hasn’t made its way to your nearest health-food store yet, check out online stockists or try this DIY recipe by Jessica Valiant, nutritionist for Hemp Foods Australia: “Blend 2-4 tbs of hemp seeds with a cup of water – add a little cacao or vanilla powder if you like.”
We finally stop pronouncing it phonetically and along comes another reason to fret about quinoa. While production isn’t too much of a problem for us, its popularity means its value has tripled in the past decade, pricing customers in its native Bolivia and Peru out of the market. And while you can find Australian-grown versions of the grain, you’d be doing everyone a favour by mixing it up once in a while.
Smaller than quinoa, but also gluten-free, this seed delivers a similar protein content and contains three times more calcium and almost twice as much iron. Result.
Choc’s newfound super-status ranks as one of the greatest food wins ever. But our cacao addiction spells trouble. “More than half of all cacao comes from West Africa, where farmers are struggling with poor harvests,” Wheeler says. The International Cocoa Organisation has already reported a 38,000 ton shortfall in cocoa beans and chocolate prices are predicted to double in the next five years. Start saving…
Derived from the fleshy pulp of the carob tree, it’s sweet, low in fat, high in fibre and a source of calcium and iron. “And unlike chocolate, it doesn’t contain any caffeine,” Bailey says.
Now that we’re all aboard the good-fat train, we’re drizzling olive oil with abandon. “It’s never been more popular,” Wheeler says. “The problem is, the majority of growers can’t keep up with demand.” In fact, the International Olive Oil Council has calculated there’ll be a shortfall of 783,000 tons this year and the price of virgin olive oil rose by up to 40 per cent last year. Glug with caution.
Try: Rapeseed oil
Extracted from the canola plant, rapeseed oil is “just as rich in vitamin E as olive oil and boasts more omega-3s,” Bailey says. “It also has a higher smoking point, so it’s better for cooking at high temperatures.”
Yes, this requires a slightly looser definition of the term ‘health food’ – it’s relatively low in sugar, we’ll give you that – but the Italian sparkling wine is officially outselling champagne, with sales in Australia expected to increase by 36 per cent by 2020 (that’s 412.8 million bottles of the stuff.) Then it was announced that that 2017’s weather had been a nightmare for prosecco crops…
Try: Sparkling wine
Tasmania is renowned for its cooler climate (closely mimicking that of Europe), making the grapes from this region perfect for fizz production. And you can sleep easy with the knowledge your Bellini obsession hasn’t clocked up any air miles.
TIP: Reports suggest our beloved coffee is at risk, too. Try hot maca instead: blend 2 tbs with warm hemp or oat milk and cinnamon
This article originally appeared in the June issue of Women's Health.